By now the school year feels under way. The chaos of the first week has subsided. Classes are settling into routines. Units and projects are underway. Our excitement and expectations for the new year, and our students, is still there.
It is these expectations, the ones we as teachers hold up, that have the most power for our students’ learning. This piece from NPR explores the research behind teacher expectations and student achievement, and also offers some ideas for recognizing and adjusting our expectations.
In the book Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning Peter Johnston talks about how the way we speak to our students conveys our expectations. He argues that our language is the central tool for the social, emotional, and academic development of our students. Here are three of my favorite suggestions for how we intentionally use language with our students so that we can create the intellectual life we want them to grow into:
Notice and Name: Be explicit about the praise you give. Say who you saw doing something you want to praise, then say what it is they did.
Become Strategic: We want to foster problem solving and creative thinking. One way to do this is to give students the opportunity to explain their thinking and processing in group settings. Ask students questions that prompt strategic thinking whenever the chance arises.
Courtney is the Instructional Coach for KIDS RSU #2 in Maine. She also hosts a podcast about personalized learning, and is available for independent consulting work.
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